We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

Winner: Archibald Prize 1973

Janet Dawson Michael Boddy

acrylic on bleached linen

150 x 120 cm

In her first Archibald attempt, Janet Dawson became the third woman to claim the award, in 1973, with a portrait of 39-year-old actor and playwright Michael Boddy (1934–2014), painted over four days.

Dawson had married Boddy in 1968, the year she was one of three women included in the National Gallery of Victoria’s influential exhibition of abstract works, The Field. With formal academic training in Melbourne and London, Dawson embraced non-objective art in the 1960s, adopting her own lyrical approach to abstraction, while maintaining a continual engagement with figurative work.

A ‘ten-pound Pom’, Boddy emigrated to Australia in 1959 after studies at Cambridge. Throughout the 1960s, he appeared on stage and television and was part of the new wave of Australian theatre. Success came with the 1970 musical play The legend of King O’Malley, written by Boddy and Bob Ellis, and directed by John Bell, with designs by Dawson and Sue Lloyd. Described as gentle, erudite and private, Boddy later wrote books on food, home economics and sustainable living, following the couple’s move to the NSW Southern Tablelands, where they lived until Boddy’s death.